It’s rare to find a restaurant that you equally enjoy at midnight and at noon. After partying at El Techo until 1 a.m. on a Friday night, followed by brunch less than 12 hours later, I can attest from first-hand experience that El Techo fits the bill.
Notwithstanding a long 34 months of permitting drama, El Techo opened their stairway to the rooftop oasis perched above their burrito and taco outpost, Rito Loco, in Shaw. The “adult tree house” is an unexpected mix of glamorous boxwood and mirrored walls, a Latin vibe, and a massive sycamore tree canopy. It’s intimate and unique and exactly where you want to spend a gorgeous day that turns into a lively night.
Daniel and Louie are the fun-loving duo behind the unique, hip design on the 1,100-square-foot roof deck. The awesomely approachable team is just as passionate about their business as they are about ensuring you have a good time. They embody the “come as you are, stay a while, have a tequila shot” vibe.
Despite devising a morning that had me arriving to Shaw for a workout two hours before brunch, I still managed to be the last to arrive in my party of tres. My girls were already posted up at the bar and enjoying a few sips of delicious brunch cocktails.
Maddie insisted I try the bacon lollipop that accompanied the Bloody Mary. A lollipop in my Bloody is not a combo I’m typically seeking, but it ended up being so wrong it was right. The novelty added a touch of sweet and savory to the spicy, homemade cocktail.
The beauty of the brunch at El Techo is it can be as quick or long as you make it. No surprise here, the star of the show are the breakfast tacos, but with a twist. We ordered a round of the Scramby Eggs: perfectly scrambled eggs mixed with Velveta shells, as an unexpected but welcomed vehicle for cheese in each bite.
The tacos are served a la carte, so we ordered a mix of carne asada, eggs, and O.G. (taco-style ground beef), which all came topped with pico de gallo salsa. They went down easy and were the perfect hangout helper.
El Techo, like Rito Loco, prides itself on serving homemade fresh ingredients, which means you can expect your tacos to come with fresh dipping sauce and your margaritas to come with house-made agave simple syrup.
It took 20 minutes and two nonjudgmental best friends to thoroughly extract the fixings of the Mexican-style street corn from my teeth (they tell you to floss, but here we are). The perfectly charred sweet corn slathered in cheese and spices was worth every awkward toothpick jab. We passed it around like a hot potato, one was plenty for the three of us to share.
While we very much judge a dish by it’s cover, the fried chicken and churros is an exception to that rule. Not the most appetizing presentation, but one of the more unique versions of the Southern brunch staple we’ve sampled to date.
The churros were greasy and crispy and added just enough sweetness in ways that a plain waffle never could. We also loved dousing each bite in the spicy mayo sauce instead of maple syrup. I actually think we agreed that we prefer this version to waffles.
To top of our smorgasbord of Latin brunch fare, we tried the trio of tostones. We loved the mojo pork (not only for the ode to my pup, Mojo) and the refried black beans with feta. The smashed and fried plantains were like the Latin version of a flatbread, however we didn’t care for the middle one pictured in the photo above. It was simply topped with red onion salsa and compared to the other bookends, felt like it was missing something.
A few tequila shots later and a basket of delicious yuca fries—that went too quickly to photograph—we went on with our lovely sunny Saturday. Don’t be discouraged that you’re just reading this now, El Techo plans to have heat lamps and even a potential tented roof for the colder nights ahead.
The Bitches say: A. Come for brunch, stay for happy hour. El Techo is a unique urban oasis that provides a perfect spot to lick your wounds from too many tequila shots the night before … at the adult tree house.
El Techo is open for brunch Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m to 3 p.m. (202) 836-4270